Action Alert

Fair trade or free trade? Let your voice be heard on Minnesota’s future!

The Obama Administration is negotiating two new mega trade deals (one with Pacific Rim countries, another with Europe) entirely in secret, with the goal of further expanding the NAFTA-model of free trade. These trade agreements could have major impacts on Minnesota's farmers, workers, small business owners and rural communities. They could limit Minnesota’s ability to support local food and energy systems and grow local businesses. In order to stay up to speed, Minnesota has set up a new Trade Policy Advisory Council (TPAC) to advise the state legislature and Governor.

TPAC wants to hear from Minnesotans: What concerns do you have about free trade? What role could TPAC play in the future? Now is your opportunity to have a say in our future trade policy. Complete the survey and let them know future trade negotiations should be public, not secret. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard in the development of trade agreements and that they protect local control and our quality of life. The free trade model has failed for Minnesota and we need a new approach to trade. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard before trade agreements are completed, and that they protect local control, our natural resources and our quality of life.

Please take five minutes and complete the survey. To find out more about these trade agreements, go to

Farm Bill ignores climate change—mostly

Used under creative commons license from mtungate.

In all of the discussions and proposals associated with the current Farm Bill debate, climate change has gotten little official recognition (although we have pointed out that from IATP’s perspective, the singular focus on crop insurance is clear evidence that climate change is the primary concern of farmers and agriculture state politicians). As the Farm Bill debate goes to the Senate floor, we apploaud two amendments that are trying to bring greater recognition of climate change to the farm policy discussion. 

The first, Senator Whitehouse’s Sense of the Senate Resolution #1029, is a largely symbolic, yet ultimately very important resolution about the authenticity of climate change science and determined causes. This resolution expresses that it is the sense of the Senate that climate change research is in fact based on sound practices, that a scientific consensus exists that humans are contributing to climate change, and that climate change poses a risk to agriculture and related industries. While “Sense of the Senate” resolutions do not result in any direct legislative actions or laws, passage of this resolution would be an important, if quite belated indicator that the U.S. Congress is finally getting serious about climate change and its impacts, especially as they relate to agriculture and our food system.

The second could be more directly meaningful for farmers and landowners. Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) and Senator Udall (D-NM) are introducing the Whitehouse-Udall Regional Conservation Partnership Program Amendment #1058. This amendment expands the list of eligible activities within the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to include projects with climate change benefits. Including this as an area of focus will allow farmers and other landowners to receive support for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon and help them adapt to changing climate.

While these admittedly modest proposals do not in any way make up for the fact that most of our farm policy deliberately ignores the real threats we as farmers and eaters alike face in a changing climate (and in most cases actually continues to support the kind of production systems that are most vulnerable), they do serve to help open the door to increased and needed recognition of the realities of the crisis and the types of farming systems and practices that can help our farmers and ranchers adapt and help to slow climate change. For that, they deserve recognition and strong support in the current Farm Bill debate.

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